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Kentucky Legal Issues Blog

Save the drama with alternative dispute resolution

When your insurance company is facing a lawsuit in Kentucky for bad faith, we at Fowler Bell know that you want the matter dealt with as quickly and discreetly as possible, preferably at a minimum of expense to you. Methods of alternative dispute resolution, such as mediation and arbitration, offer you distinct advantages over litigating the matter in court. 

According to FindLaw, either arbitration or mediation may take the place of courtroom litigation or occur in conjunction with it. In other words, the disputing parties may try an alternative dispute resolution modality to negotiate the matter, and if that does not work, the case may then go to trial. Arbitration and mediation are also similar in that each involves a neutral third party to preside over the proceedings. A mediator helps to facilitate discussion, while an arbitrator takes an active role in making decisions that may or may not be legally binding. 

New law changes custody default in divorce proceedings

One of the most difficult things for children in divorce is determining which parent they will live with. In Kentucky, when parents separate before a divorce, a new law will change the default custody agreement to one of joint custody. According to WFPL, with this change, Kentucky becomes the first state to pass this matter into law, although there is a fair amount of both support and criticism for the changes.

With the new law, the judge deciding the case starts with joint legal custody before considering factors such as the relationship with the parent and the proximity of their current home to their school. Cases where a partner has filed a domestic violence protective order at any time during the relationship are the exception to this new rule.

Updating your will after your divorce

Following the conclusion of your divorce in Lexington, you may want to do nothing more than get on with your life. Revisiting the pain involved with your separation is likely the last thing on your mind, and your reluctance to want to deal with any matters related to it is understandable. Yet there are still actions to be taken to ensure that ensure that other aspects of your life reflect your new situation. One is to reconsider whatever estate planning you have done. Many come to us here at Fowler Bell PLLC concerned that if they do not update their wills, their ex-spouse's will still inherit their assets. Yet that is not the only aspect of estate planning to consider following your divorce. 

First, however, that singular concern should be addressed. Section 394.092 of Kentucky's Revised Statutes says that a divorce serves to automatically revoke any provisions of your will involving your ex-spouse. That includes any assets you had previously stated they should receive as well as any powers of authority your will might have endowed them with (e.g., naming them executor of your estate). Thus, you do not need to worry about them inadvertently inheriting your estate. 

Can you benefit from an uncontested divorce?

Many unhappy couples in Kentucky and elsewhere put off filing for divorce because they are afraid of the horror stories they've heard - the contentious fight over child custody or the expensive, drawn-out court battle. You may be reassured to learn that there are other options to ending your marriage than fighting it out before a judge. It can help to understand how uncontested divorce works, as well as the potential benefits.

FindLaw explains that such uncontested divorce options as mediation and collaborative law rely on both parties' ability to cooperate and communicate, as well as their willingness to compromise. The benefits you get from an uncontested divorce can include the following:

  • Being private, rather than the details of your dispute being made a matter of public record
  • Minimizing the conflict you and your children are exposed to
  • Teaching you negotiation and communication skills that you can continue to use throughout your life
  • Discovering solutions that you and your spouse can agree upon, which you might not have had in a litigated divorce
  • Costing less and taking less time than a traditional divorce

Are you guilty of bad faith?

According to upcounsel, a person or entity is guilty of bad faith if he or she does something immoral in a legal matter. Something "immoral" may include not following through with contractual obligations, entering an agreement you know you will not honor, knowingly giving the wrong idea to others regarding legal matters and acting deceitfully in a legal capacity. If you commit bad faith as an insurer in Kentucky, the insured party against whom you committed the offense can file a lawsuit over breach of trust. If the courts find you guilty, you may be in a world of legal trouble. For this reason, it is imperative that you know what insurance bad faith looks like so you can avoid it.

In an insurance environment, bad faith looks slightly different than it would in any other capacity. Yes, bad faith still occurs when you break your legal commitment to another party, but when dealing with coverage, there are several ways in which you can break your contract. Some are more obvious than others.

Uncovering hidden assets in divorce

According to the National Endowment for Financial Education, one-third of individuals who combine their finances with a significant other admit to being guilty of financial infidelity. Many people commit financial infidelity because they believe that parts of their finances should remain private, while some do it because they are embarrassed of their financial situation. Regardless of the reason, more than three-quarters of offenders admit their deception took a toll on their relationship. For married couples living in Kentucky, hiding funds, assets or even debts often lead to divorce.   

In divorce, there is no room for financial infidelity.  To ensure each party of a divorce gets a fair share of the marital property, the courts will ask each party to provide a full financial disclosure. If either party is dishonest in his or her disclosure, the courts may hold the party in contempt of court and possibly charge him or her with fraud or perjury. Before that can happen, however, either party must prove financial infidelity has occurred.

Are you sure your prenup will pass the court's scrutiny?

You determined that you needed a prenuptial agreement in order to protect your pre-wedding interests, and your intended spouse agrees to enter into it. After negotiating its terms, you execute the document and move forward with the rest of your wedding plans.

After years of marital bliss, you and your spouse begin not to get along. Eventually, the marriage deteriorates to the point where you consider divorce. This is when you drag out your dusty prenuptial agreement and review it. Will it stand up to a Kentucky court's scrutiny? Did you do everything right?

Can you capitalize on your retirement planning?

Once you recognize the importance of creating a retirement plan for yourself in Kentucky, you may begin to start learning about all of the different facets of preparing for your future. When you spend adequate time comparing your options, identifying your future goals and creating a plan that is customized to support your lifestyle and desires, you can be confident that you are putting yourself in a good position to attain a comfortable retirement once you reach that age. 

According to Bankrate, the best type of retirement plan is one where your investments are diversified across several options for storing and building your money. Relying solely on the stock market is a risky way to plan as your investment could be obliterated if anything drastic were to occur with the economy. As such, it is crucial to maintaining a healthy cash cushion that allows you to have funds to fall back on if other investments are tied up elsewhere. It is also important to regularly revisit your retirement plan to make modifications in areas that need some reassessment. 

Dissolving a marriage means separating assets

When people in Kentucky prepare to divorce their spouse, often one of their greatest concerns is how this significant decision will affect their financial future and their ability to live independently after sharing a life with someone else for so long. While separation of a couple's assets may be lengthy, stressful and disappointing at times, there are things that people can do to facilitate the process and reduce the negative effects it may have on their life. 

According to CNBC, one of the biggest mistakes that divorcing couples can make is to decide to maintain their joint financial accounts. This growing liability can be extremely risky once their divorce is finalized and be the foundation for ongoing disagreements and frustrations. Some of the other mistakes that people should avoid when it comes time to split their assets include the following:

  • Tying too much emotion into certain possessions.
  • Pulling everything they can out of retirement accounts.
  • Ignoring money that has appeared to have gone missing. 

Are there mistakes to avoid in a divorce?

Sometimes when you get a divorce in Kentucky, you are your own worst enemy. There are things you may do to make the settlement turn out badly. It can help if you go into the process knowing what not to do ahead of time. Here are some mistakes to avoid in a divorce as noted by CNBC.

The first mistake is not understanding the laws in your jurisdiction. You cannot go into a divorce situation without understand what the law says you can get, such as alimony and asset division. You need to learn about the applicable laws and how they will affect your case.

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